Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Many People Does it Take to Locate a Cemetery?

Recently, while I was preparing for a trip to visit family back East, I remembered visiting a very small cemetery of about a dozen headstones in the woods off River Road in Calverton. I had taken a few pictures of the headstones but thought I’d double check to see if the cemetery had been recorded on FindAGrave. If not, then I should take a few minutes and get photos of the headstones to post. I found that the ‘Wells Cemetery’ had been documented on FindAGrave. I did, however, notice another cemetery listed in Calverton, NY entitled the ‘Edwards Cemetery’. Hmm…I grew up there and NEVER remember hearing anything about an ‘Edwards Cemetery’. 

When I opened the cemetery link there was a listing for several people but no headstone pictures. I also noted a request for a photo. I knew I would have very little time while in Calverton but maybe I could find this cemetery and take a photo for the person requesting it. I was very puzzled by the idea that this cemetery even existed and I had no idea about where to find it. Genealogists do love a quest!

I contacted the gentleman looking for a photo of a headstone. Rick was looking for the headstone of David Edward Dayton, reportedly buried there. He had no idea of the actual location of the cemetery besides it being listed as in Calverton, New York. OK, I know there is an Edwards Avenue in the area. So, maybe the cemetery is off that road on a dirt road behind one of the farm fields? I know ‘Edwards’ lived there and were farmers for generations. I even have a 4th great grandmother who was an Edwards from the area. Maybe I have ancestors buried there?

When I got to New York I asked my family. My Dad has lived in that area for over 80 years (and my grandparents since 1929). Surely he would know. No, he’d never heard of it. My brother recommended a family friend who knows everything all about the area and his family has also been there for generations. Jay said he’d ask his sister, the genealogist. His sister thought it was maybe in the triangular area where Edwards Avenue, River Road and Railroad Avenue come together. My Dad never remembered a cemetery there but maybe it’s in the little bit of woods there.

I contacted the person who had listed the names for the Edwards Cemetery on FindAGrave.  The information she had came from Elbert N. Carter & Leigh Phillips in 1973, “this cemetery is located approximately 0.3 miles west of Edwards Avenue on South River Road or Mill Road. It is about 70 yards south of the road and to the East of a house and garage. The cemetery is in very bad shape and is completely overgrown with briars. Most of the stones are down.”

My son happened to be visiting for about an hour and heard us talking about this and our wondering who to ask next. The woman who had listed the cemetery responded as we were talking. At the same time my son showed me his phone and said “Here are the coordinates for the Edwards Cemetery.” SURPRISE! Mill Road, this matched what the woman from FindAGrave said. I had looked on FindAGrave for information about the cemetery and there wasn’t any but I had forgotten what my son always tells me “GOOGLE it Mom!”

The next morning my Dad said, “Well, let’s go see if we can find this cemetery.” He and my stop mother and I drove the couple of miles to Mill Road, Calverton, NY. Then we went exactly .3 mile and saw nothing … but trees, brambles, overgrowth, etc.

A little bit farther there was a sign for a Nursery.

We saw a truck pull in so we parked on the side of the road and my father went to ask the driver if he knew of a cemetery nearby. I HAD to look also. So off I went through the brush.  My son had dropped a ‘pin’ on Google Maps for me. I walked with my phone showing the location of the spot for the cemetery and my location as I walked in to the woods through the brush following the ‘pin’. I was determined to find some tombstones in the bushes. 

Nothing. I came out by the road in to the nursery and asked someone if they knew of a cemetery. A worker told me to go in the greenhouse and find someone. I found someone who knew exactly what I was looking for. I had walked right past it looking for her. There it was…in the middle of the Nursery. WOW!! SUCCESS!!

I went back to the car to find my parents and share and show them my discovery. The owner of the Nursery happened to come by and explained that she had purchased the Nursery in 2004. She had placed a retaining wall around the cemetery to help preserve it. She said the previous owners had repaired the broken stones that were there to help save them.

Unfortunately, the headstone of David Dayton was not there. It may have been at one time but may have been lost to time. There were 7 stones in total with 6 carrying the Surname Edwards.

A very special thank-you to everyone who aided me on my Quest and has helped over the years preserve this small cemetery! It took a lot of people to find this cemetery but it is now found. I will add the photos for the headstones to FindAGrave as soon as possible and the location of the cemetery for others to find as well.  Don’t give up on your Quest to find those little known cemeteries you are searching for and know there are people out there to help you!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The ‘Dark Day’ 19 May 1780

Knowing what my ancestors experienced in their daily lives is very important to me in helping understand and tell the story beyond the dates of their life events. I always want to know more about their daily lives.

I recently came across the following article at the Suffolk County Historical Society in a collection entitled ‘The Salmon Record Scrap Book’. This collection was compiled and presented by N. Hubbard Cleveland on 12 September 1921 to the Suffolk County Historical Society. Here is a record of a major event that my ancestors living on Long Island, New Jersey, and New England experienced. I had to stop and wonder what it must have felt like 239 years ago today for my 4x great grandparents James and Anna Edwards Warner as the ‘Dark Day’ happened? Were they afraid?

from the N.Y. Herald;
“Anniversary of the “Dark Day.”
One hundred years ago to-day, May 19, 1780, was one of the most famous of dates in the legendary tales of our grandfathers. It was the “Dark Day,” when, according to the chronicles, candles had to be lighted at midday, the birds were silent or disappeared, and the domestic fowls retired to roost. This darkness prevailed over the whole of New England and the Middle States, and its memory is even now preserved by the Indians of the Six Nations, who use it as a time mark for estimating the ages of children born about that period. Many were the bits of doggerel [verse or words that are badly written or expressed] verse which were current a few years ago about this phenomenon, and wonderfully varied were the experiences which the spectators transmitted to their posterity. Barber, Webster, and Mursell have referred to the circumstance in their historical compilations; but the most interesting anecdote is that referring to the attitude of the Connecticut Council, then in session at Hartford, and discussing an interesting bill about the shad fishery. As the darkness became more intense, suggesting to many the arrival of the day of judgment, the legislature on motion adjourned; but Colonel Abraham Davenport of Stamford, opposed a similar motion in the Council, saying, “I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is approaching or it is not. If it is not there is no cause for adjournment ; if it is, I wish to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.” The lovers of poetry may find a beautiful version of this incident in Whittier’s “Tent on the beach.” Other dark days cited in more recent annals especially October 21, 1816, but none ever attained such celebrity as that of which the centenary occurs to-day, and of whose cause no satisfactory explanation has ever been offered.”

Immediately, I thought there must have been an eclipse but was that what happened? What was the explanation for this event? What did they believe was happening? Did they believe daylight would return? This seemed to be such a major event in the lives of so many of my ancestors that 100 years later people were still recalling this event in the newspapers. I had to do my own research to see if this could be explained.

Our ancestors, at this time, lived along the coasts of America and there was still a vast unknown world to the west of them. Many had very strong religious beliefs. There was no TV or radio to report the event. No telephones to call and ask about what was happening. How frightening this must have been!

From my research through a variety of sources I learned:
  • There are many theories still today as to what actually happened.
  • Records were kept of Solar eclipses and they generally only last a few minutes. There is no record of this being an eclipse.
  • There are no records of any volcanic activity creating an ash cloud or of a meteorite crashing.
  • The most prevalent theory seems to be that there was a combination of smoke from forest fires, a thick fog and cloud cover.

I came across the following personal accounts of this event in my research:

Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Plumb Martin noted:
“We were here [New Jersey] at the time the "dark day" happened, it has been said that the darkness was not so great in New-Jersey as in New-England. How great it was there I do not know, but I know that it was very dark where I then was in New-Jersey; so much so that the fowls went to their roosts, the cocks crew and the whip-poor-wills sung their usual serenade; the people had to light candles in their houses to enable them to see to carry on their usual business; the night was as uncommonly dark as the day was.

Wikipedia has the following reports:
“The earliest report of the darkness came from Rupert, New York where the sun was already obscured at sunrise. Professor Samuel Williams observed from Cambridge, Massachusetts, "This extraordinary darkness came on between the hours of 10 and 11 a.m. and continued till the middle of the next night.” Reverend Ebenezer Parkham of Westborough, Massachusetts reported peak obscurity to occur "by 12", but did not record the time when it first arrived. At Harvard College, the obscuration was reported to arrive at 10:30 a.m., peaking at 12:45 p.m. and abating by 1:10 p.m., but a heavy overcast remained for the rest of the day. The obscuration was reported to have reached Barnstable, Massachusetts by 2:00 p.m., with peak obscurity reported to have occurred at 5:30 p.m.
Roosters crowed, woodcocks whistled, and frogs peeped as if night had fallen at 2:00 p.m. in Ipswich, Massachusetts. A witness reported that a strong sooty smell prevailed in the atmosphere, and that rain water had a light film over it that was made up of particles of burnt leaves and ash. Contemporaneous reports also indicated that ash and cinders fell on parts of New Hampshire to a depth of six inches.”

What I would give to be able to ask James or Anna for their accounts of what happened. How did this dramatic event shape their lives? I guess I will never know the impact of this event but I now know that this event occurred and they witnessed it.

***Thank-you to Paul Elliott for realizing I incorrectly wrote 1790 instead of 1780 when I posted this and letting me know.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday A Cautionary Tale, The Partially Incorrect Warner Story

Information found on a tombstone should always be considered a gift and not fact until you prove or disprove it.  Growing up I knew of this tombstone and the story it told.  As a young girl I remember there was some concern that perhaps the story wasn’t quite right but that was all I knew.

On the side of the tombstone:

Transcription:  William Warner immigrated from England in 1637.  He had 2 sons and 1 daughter.  John, Daniel. and Abigail.  Daniel had a son in 1642 who was the father of Nathaniel Warner, who was born Oct. 1690.  Daniel son of Nathaniel was born April 30, 1731.  James son of Daniel was born April 26, 1762.  Daniel son of James was born Sept. 18, 1784.  Daniel son of Daniel was born June 9, 1818.

On the front of the tombstone:

Baiting Hollow Cemetery
Riverhead, New York

                                                   Daniel Warner                         Eleanor Howell, His Wife
                                                           Born June 9, 1818                   Born May 15, 1825           
                                                           Died June 15, 1895                 Died March 7, 1895

On the sides:

Their Children

Allen M.                                     Frances M.                                   Josephine A.                              Martha R.
b-Oct. 6, 1842                            b-July 11, 1844                             b-May 27, 1846                         b-March 3, 1848
d-Aug. 27, 1927                         d-                                                  d-Oct. 17, 1848                          d-

Franklin E.
b-Jan. 5, 1868
d-May 3, 1908  

Eunice                                       Mary A.                                         Julia                                          
b-Feb. 15, 1850                        b-Dec.   , 1851                               b-Dec. 14, 1853                       
d-                                              d-                                                   d-May 10, 1871     


Charles H.                               Eleanor F.                                      John B.                                      Eugene G.
b-May 17, 1858                       b-July 20, 1860                              b-Aug 12, 1862                         b-Nov. 27, 1864
d-                                            d-Aug. 8, 1892                                d-Jun. 20, 1920                        d-
   Waldo D.    
    b-Feb. 11, 1856

(see post The Joy and Blessings of Meeting Cousins to see pictures of several of the 13 children as adults)
I have a copy of a Memoranda page from a Warner Bible that lists this same story.  I am guessing this is what was used for the tombstone.  There is no date as to when this was recorded and I do not know who in the family currently has the Bible.  Where did the story first come from?  I remember as a young 13 or 14 year old being determined to solve this mystery.  I looked at the local library and while able to find William Warner I was not able to match up dates of the Warner’s from Long Island with the dates I found for William Warner’s line.  I was sure I was on to something when I found a listing for an Andrew Warner with a son Daniel and grandson Nathaniel but was never really able to pursue it at that time.  Later, I learned the story listed on the tombstone was indeed incorrect.

The Warner line on Long Island, of which I am a direct descendant, did indeed start with Nathaniel, born 1690.  He was the father of Daniel, born 1731, who was the father of James, born 1762.  James’ son Daniel was born 1784.  Daniel had a son Daniel, born 1818 who married Eleanor (parents of the 13 children listed above).  Nathaniel, who came to Long Island was the son of a Daniel Warner.  This is perhaps where the problem came.  This Daniel, born 1632 or 3, was the son of Andrew Warner and not William Warner.  Andrew came to America about 1630 from England.  Names that frequently repeat in the family, like ‘Daniel’ can create problems if you do not carefully review other vital record information.  (click on highlighted names to read additional stories)

I recently came across a document written by Justine Warner Wells, granddaughter of Eugene Warner, listed above.  Justine was the family historian for many many years.  This document, Justine stated, was a Historical Sketch of the Nathaniel Warner Family, Given at the Annual Warner Reunion on July 17, 1976 at Wildwood Park.  In this document Justine tells of having a letter sent to Eugene Warner in 1926 from a J. A. Warner of Brooklyn.  J. A. Warner stated that he was a direct ancestor of William Warner and his son Daniel.  J. A.  had done research on that line for over 20 years and did not feel that ‘our’ Nathaniel was a descendant of William Warner.  Justine also states that Elaine Warner Tuthill, granddaughter of John B. Warner, listed above, found a letter written to her father Hollis Warner by Alice Hammond Warner (Eugene’s wife) that acknowledged her concern that if the information inscribed on the stone was incorrect it should be removed from the stone.  The inscription was never removed but time and the elements make it hard to read now.  

Caution: Remember to use the information on tombstones as a starting point to research and do not assume they are facts until thoroughly researched.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,